If it wasn’t for certain “assets”, I’m sure the Tomb Raider series would have disappeared a long time ago. How they were able to make annual sequels that only got worse and kept the franchise alive is beyond me. But somehow Lara Croft has survived, and surprisingly enough, her latest outing is actually a pretty decent game. Granted it features elements that should have been incorporated into the series years ago, but in this case I guess it’s true that late is better than never. Thanks to Tomb Raider: Legend, it looks as though the Tomb Raider franchise may have a successful future with the next generation of gaming consoles.
Perhaps the biggest improvement to the series is the control scheme. No longer is Lara hopping about on that archaic grid system, which really should have been eliminated by the second or third game. I know they got rid of it in the last game, but Angel of Darkness was so atrocious I don’t think it really counts. While it isn’t exactly Prince of Persia – the physics feel a bit floaty as Lara leaps about – the control scheme works well and finally makes all the climbing, cliff hanging, rope swinging and jumping from ledge to ledge enjoyable. Combat isn’t stellar, but it’s fun, and this game is more about exploring ancient ruins than fighting bad guys, which seems appropriate for a game entitled Tomb Raider. There are a few modern settings, but there’s still plenty of tombs filled with puzzles and traps to explore, and that’s really what makes this franchise fun. The worst part of the game are the motorcycle chase levels, mainly because they last too long and the bike feels like it has no weight at all, but on the whole Tomb Raider: Legend is a fun adventure game. Plus if you have an X-box 360, it looks pretty amazing in all of its high-definition, next-gen glory.
Not only is Tomb Raider a fun game with pretty graphics, it also has some lessons that we can learn as well. Now I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking that I would have to be out of my mind to claim I’ve found some sort of spiritual insight for the Christian life in a Tomb Raider game. Well in that case I must be crazy like a fox, because that’s exactly what I’m saying. You see, during the course of the somewhat bizarre and convoluted story there’s a point in the game where Lara Croft remarks that eventually we all live in the past. I think it was supposed to be an ironically clever remark since she’s a tomb raiding archeologist and makes her living by digging up the past, and it’s true that as we get older we naturally tend to reflect on the past more. However, the statement resonated with much more significance to me because believe it or not, Lara was right; we do have a tendency to live in the past, a tendency that I think shouldn’t be a part of the Christian life.
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself looking back at good times I’ve had or on painful memories that I can’t or won’t let go off. I’m no tomb raider, but sometimes the past seems to be a constant part of my present. Now I know there are good things we can learn from the past, and as “they” say, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. This may be true, but the past shouldn’t be a part of a Christian’s present. Why? Because our God is not a God of the past. His name is “I Am.” That’s present tense, people. Not “I was” or “I will be”, but “I Am.” Our God is a God of the here and now. We don’t need to live in the past because He’s dealt with our past on the cross. Jesus Christ wiped the slate of our past clean when He died and rose again. True, the past may still haunt us, but it no longer needs to be an all consuming aspect of our today. I don’t know what your past may hold, but the Bible tells us that now is the day of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). It goes on to say that all things are made new when we come to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Whatever your past may be, God isn’t so much concerned with it as His is with what your present relationship is with Him. Don’t think that you have to try and fix your past or make compensations for it before you can come to God; come to Him now and let Him deal with your past. Leave the past to the Indiana Jones’ and Lara Crofts of the world, and enjoy the present love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now you may find it a stretch that I found all of this in a Tomb Raider game, and if you happen to play it you may not see these themes like I did. The point is, however, that if you’re willing to look, you may find useful lessons that can encourage and challenge you in some of the most unlikely places; including the gaming world of Lara Croft.